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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Week 34 : Cincinnati Chili

2 lbs lean ground beef
4-5 cups water 
15 ou tomato sauce
2 Tbs vinegar
2 tea Worcestershire sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 ou unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup chili powder
1 1/2 tea salt
1 tea cumin
1 tea cinnamon
1/2 tea cayenne pepper
5 whole cloves
5 whole allspice berries
1 bay leaf

Place the ground beef in a large pot and pour the water over.  Bring to a boil and whisk the ground beef until fine and thoroughly cooked.  Place in the refrigerator until cool and the fat has separated.  Skim fat off the top.  Pour beef and water into slow cooker.  Place remaining ingredients in the Crock Pot.  Cook on LOW about 4 hours.

This sounds strange doesn't it?  Well, let me educate you a bit about Cincinnati Style Chili.  In Cincinnati, they have chili parlors dedicated to just this dish.  Served over spaghetti, hot dogs, french fries, even in burritos!  Let's talk about the lingo.  Start with the 3-way: spaghetti, chili and cheese.  Move up to the 4-way: spaghetti, chili, cheese and kidney beans OR diced onions.  Last is the 5-way: spaghetti, chili, cheese, beans AND onions.  My personal favorite is the 4 way with beans.  A Cheese Coney is also always a good way to go.  Bun, hot dog, mustard, chili, cheese and onions.  All of these go nicely with a side of oyster crackers.  Certainly a trip to Skyline Chili is a must when visiting Cincinnati.  

Keep in mind that this is not like your usual chili.  Think of it as a cross between chili and spaghetti sauce.  It is meant to be a little thin.  If you feel this recipe comes out too thin, just give it a try first.  If it is still too thin for your taste, just bring to a boil and let some of the water cook off.  I actually thought it came out a bit thin.  I ended up cooking on LOW for 3 hours and then cracking the lid open and finishing it on HIGH for 1 hour.

A few tips.  The first step is crucial for the consistency of the chili.  Place the beef in the cool water and just start whisking it as it heats up.  The beef will just fall apart and become real fine.  It is done cooking when it is no longer pink.  If you want to save time, I suppose you could just use the meat right after it is done cooking, but be aware that it might turn out greasy.  I think it might also work to just drain the beef and use fresh water in the pot, but the water won't have the beef flavor.  If the beef sits long enough in the water, it will get that nasty white film of grease on the top that you can just pull right off.  The original recipe says to let it sit over night, but I let it sit about 4 hours and it was fine.  I used the whole allspice and whole cloves for this recipe because I had them.  I'm sure you could substitute about 1 tea of ground for each of these spices.  Also, it had a bit too much heat to it, so maybe use just half the amount of cayenne pepper.  If you decide to go for a 3- or a 4- way, add the kidney beans (one or two cans of drained and rinsed) about 15 minutes before end of cooking time.  Most people sprinkle raw onions on top, but if you prefer cooked, also add these close to end.  At Skyline, the cheddar cheese they use is the best around!  It is grated so finely and they place mounds of it on every dish.  Just for sentimental reasons, it is worth it to me to buy a chunk of cheddar and grate it very thin.  And pile it on!!!

Normally, I buy the packets of Cincinnati Chili spices from Kroger in Ohio.  A few years ago, I made the recipe from the packet in the Crock Pot, since it takes 2-3 hours on the stove anyways and I wasn't able to stay and watch the stove.  But, these packets are not available to all and I feel this culinary experience needs to be shared with all!  I was thrilled when I came across a recipe that tasted so much like the real thing.  I know that this is a bit more time consuming than most recipes, but trust me, it is definitely worth the effort!  Hopefully you will make and enjoy this as much as I do!


  1. Alison, this is a real surprise. I never thought any chili would be as good as the original, but you found it. Absolutely delicious! We will certainly be using this recipe antime it's chili time.

  2. Can't wait for a chill in the air to try this one out! I'm a 4-way with onion kinda gal, myself! :)